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Elvis Comes to Louisville

Today is the 39th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s passing. It’s fitting to mark his passing here on a wrestling blog with an eye to Louisville becauseĀ I just learned the story of how Elvis came to do his first public concert in Louisville.

In 1955 Elvis came to Louisville to play a private corporate function. There was little fanfare for the King of Rock n Roll that year, but when he returned a year later, the whole world knew who Elvis was.

Elvis was booked at the Armory (the future Louisville Gardens) for two shows on November 25, 1956. Tickets cost only $2.50 for this monumental show, and numerous shops around town were giving tickets away as an incentive for buying just about anything.

Of course Elvis’s impending arrival was not without some concern and controversy. Concerned about the city’s youth, the Armory box office did its best to make sure no minors bought tickets without an adult companion, and the Chief of Police assured the public that Elvis’s famous hip gyrations would not be tolerated.

Elvis was an absolute smash, and the Courier-Journal ran a front page story on the show the following day. The only thing missing from the story was the name of the man responsible for the show. Frances Mcdonogh, owner of the Allen Athletic Club wrestling promotion, was a personal friend of Col. Parker, and that connection allowed him to promote the biggest concert to date in Louisville.